Cooler Heads Coalition

The Cooler Heads Coalition (CHC), the longest running climate denial coalition, describes itself as an “informal and ad-hoc group focused on dispelling the myths of global warming…”.  Translation: a coalition of climate denying organizations, funded through the years by ExxonMobil, the Koch Brothers, the Mercers and other ‘dark money’, who have worked to stall the implementation of effective climate policy since 1997.

The CHC was founded under the auspices of the National Consumer Coalition—a project of the now-defunct Consumer Alert—and sponsored by the Competitive Enterprise Institute which pays for and operates its website:

Climate Denial History

The Cooler Heads Coalition website, paid for and run by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, is an echo chamber for climate denying organizations to promote fringe ideas on climate science.  The website’s weekly news letters and blogs, provide a space to lambast environmental legislation and publicize “scientists” who question man made climate change. A CIC investigation has surfaced hundreds of past articles and reports published by the Cooler Heads Coalition and its members. The timeline below highlights just a few examples of how the coalition misrepresented facts, targeted children with education campaigns, and sought to wield influence over the legislative process.

1998 Global Climate Science Communication Plan

In 1998, the Global Climate Science Communication Plan was written by a team convened by the American Petroleum Institute, the largest U.S. oil and gas lobbying operation with membership including ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP, Shell Oil and ConocoPhillips. The communications plan is a strategic campaign document with budgets, fundraising targets, and goals to “inform the American public” that “significant uncertainties still remain in climate science” in order to question the necessity of U.S. climate policy. The plan, which was leaked to the New York Times, states:

“Victory Will Be Achieved When

  • Average citizens “understand” (recognize) uncertainties in climate science; recognition of uncertainties becomes part of the “conventional wisdom”

  • Media “understands” (recognizes) uncertainties in climate science

  • Media coverage reflects balance on climate science and recognition of the validity of viewpoints that challenge the current “conventional wisdom”

  • Industry senior leadership understands uncertainties in climate science, making them stronger ambassadors to those who shape climate policy

  • Those promoting the Kyoto treaty on the basis of extent science appears to be out of touch with reality.”

See below for original memo

Authors of the plan, known as the “Global Climate Science Communications Team”, were from the fossil fuel industry, right-wing free market think tanks, and PR firms. Five representatives from organizations that were then members of the Cooler Heads Coalition (CHC) were on the team. The Exxon Corporation, a member of API and co-author on the plan, gave a total of $2,774,000 to CHC members also on the Global Climate Science Communications Team in the years following the publication of the memo.


The memo lays out “Strategies and Tactics” including a “National Media Relations Program” designed to “under cut the conventional wisdom on climate science” with a budget of $600,000 “plus advertising”. The establishment of a “Global Climate Science Data Center” with a budget of $5,000,000 is outlined in detailed as well as a “National Outreach and Education Program” with a budget of $300,000 aimed at influencing members of congress.

In the memo, potential sources of funding were listed as the American Petroleum Institute, the National Mining Association, the Edison Electric Institute, the Business Round Table, and the Independent Petroleum Association of America.

Recipients of funding, or “fund allocators” were listed as the American Legislative Exchange Council, the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, the Marshall Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and Frontiers of Freedom – all of which are members of the Cooler Heads Coalition in 1998.

Cooler Heads Coalition Funding

An analysis by CIC shows that, from 1997-2015, members of the Cooler Heads Coalition have received upwards of $98 million dollars in donations from Exxon Mobil, conservative foundations, and dark money organizations. Accounting for when members joined and left the coalition, CIC researchers have created a timeline of grants received by members while part of the coalition.  Our data is based on publicly available IRS disclosure forms collected by CIC researchers, as well as previous investigations conducted by and Greenpeace.

We focused on funders who have a history of supporting efforts to stall effective climate policy. The entities we included are ExxonMobil, the Koch brothers’ foundations, The Sarah Scaife Foundation and The Scaife Family Foundation, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, the Mercer Family Foundation, Dunn’s Foundation for the Advancement of Right Thinking, Donors Trust, and Donors Capital Fund.

Exxon Funding to the Cooler Heads Coalition

Of the roughly $11 million dollars that Exxon gave to members of the Coalition, almost $3 million dollars were designated on Exxon documents as climate specific grants. In disclosure forms, climate grants to member organizations had labels such as, “Climate Change Issues (Opinion Leaders and Public Education Efforts)”, “Global Climate Change Outreach”, and “Climate Change Science”.

Organizations that received climate specific grants from ExxonMobil while members of the Coalition include:

In 1997, the same year that the Coalition was funded, Exxon gave $10,000 to Consumer Alert and $95,000 to the Competitive Enterprise Institute in a grant titled “Global Climate Change Program and other support”.

Click for the full 1997 Exxon Giving Report


Cooler Heads Coalition Membership


Current members of the Cooler Heads Coalition include:

Former members include:


Note: Disclosure forms for 2014-2015 were unavailable for Dunn’s Foundation for the Advancement of Right Thinking.

Coalition Climate Denial in the White House

The people and organizations now pushing the Trump administration further to the fringes of climate change denial have roots linked to massive grants by ExxonMobil, the Koch brothers, and others. Many of these grants were given with the specific intention to sow doubt around climate science. EPA administrator Scott Pruitt has asked the Heartland Institute, which received over 28 million dollars from entities in our recent investigation as well as $680,000 specifically from Exxon, to help construct the agencies “red team-blue team” effort to debate climate science.  The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), member and sponsor of the Cooler Heads Coalition, received over $2 million dollars from ExxonMobil between 1993-2005 and over $23 million from all the entities included in our tabulation.

Climate denier Myron Ebell is the director of the Center for Energy and Environment at CEI and chair of the Cooler Heads Coalition. Myron’s salary and credentials were made possible by decades of funding from the Koch brothers and Exxon, and it is on the basis of his work at CEI that he chosen to lead Trump’s EPA transition team.  You connect the dots.

For full data sets and reports, please contact us directly.